For Release: Thursday, April 21, 2022
Washington, DC — Innocent victims continue to die at the hands of private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns, according to ongoing research from the Violence Policy Center (VPC). Concealed handgun permit holders are responsible for at least 2,240 deaths not involving self-defense since 2007, VPC research shows. Details on these fatal incidents can be found on Concealed Carry Killers (concealedcarrykillers.org), an ongoing online resource that provides examples of non-self defense killings involving private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public.
Overall, Concealed Carry Killers documents 1,981 fatal, non-self defense incidents since May 2007 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 2,240 people. Thirty-seven of the incidents were fatal mass shootings as defined by federal law (three or more victims killed), resulting in the deaths of 183 victims. At least 24 law enforcement officers have died at the hands of concealed carry killers since May 2007.
VPC Government Affairs Director Kristen Rand states, “The evidence continues to mount that concealed carry is a threat to public safety. Nevertheless, the gun lobby and firearms industry push forward with measures to expand the number of people who can carry and the places they can go with their loaded guns. Our ongoing research shows that such policies can only result in more death and injury.”
Because there is no comprehensive recordkeeping of deaths involving concealed handgun permit holders and many states in fact bar the release of such information, the examples on Concealed Carry Killers are taken primarily from news reports along with the limited information collected by a few states. Hence, they likely represent a small fraction of actual events. Concealed Carry Killers does not include the small number of incidents that are eventually determined to involve self-defense or where no verdict is reached at trial. All such incidents are removed from the database’s ongoing totals.
While advocates for increased carrying of firearms argue that concealed carry permit holders are “good guys” with guns, information from the few states that collect data on incidents involving concealed handgun permit holders reveals that in reality, far too many permit holders are a direct threat to public safety:
- In Texas, CCW holders accounted for nearly nine percent of murder convictions in 2021.
- In Minnesota, 12 CCW holders were convicted of homicide, but only one justifiable use by a permit holder was reported in 2021.
In the vast majority of the 1,981 incidents documented in Concealed Carry Killers (1,855, or 94 percent), the concealed carry permit holder either committed suicide (1,271), has already been convicted (498), perpetrated a murder-suicide (64), or was killed in the incident (22). Of the 87 cases still pending, the vast majority (73) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, five were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and nine incidents are still under investigation. An additional 39 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder.
Where information is available, Concealed Carry Killers includes a detailed narrative of the incident, including (if available) the age of the perpetrator and the victim(s), the weapon used, the relationship(s) of those involved in the killing, and motives for the killing when stated.
Below is a chart showing the status of all concealed carry killers since May 2007:
The findings of Concealed Carry Killers are consistent with the latest academic research, which shows that state laws allowing concealed handguns in public do not increase public safety — in fact, they do the opposite. A 2017 study from Stanford University concludes that state concealed carry laws are linked to an increase in violent crime.
And the May 2020 VPC study, Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use, shows it is extremely rare for private citizens to use guns in justifiable homicides. The study found that in 2017, there were only 298 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 10,380 criminal firearm homicides, based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
Additional information, including a state-by-state breakdown of fatal incidents involving concealed carry killers, is available at concealedcarrykillers.org. To review all deaths involving concealed carry killers, click on “Total People Killed by Concealed Carry Killers.”